My college boyfriend broke up with me. Twice. While I might still be a little resentful at myself for the blindsided reality of being dumped twice by the same guy, it did lead to a more interesting period in my life.
I’m a list maker. I make pro/con lists. I make to-do lists. I make grocery lists. I have spontaneity, but I enjoy being organized. An administrative achiever to my core, I like plans.
Then my senior year of college lead to the disintegration of said plans. One of the things that broke down the plans was the exit of said boyfriend. I grew up really believing that whomever (whoever? Does anyone actually know this grammar rule? English is so complicated, y’all) I was dating in college was who I would married. This is a pretty common ideal for those of us that grew up in the Southern, conservative states. When that didn’t happen, I really did wonder what I was going to do next. How my plans to attend grad school at Vanderbilt, become a counselor, get married. . . How this one guy saying “No thanks, boo” to me caused me to really examine if any of that was what I wanted.
My plans of becoming a counselor for kids, going to grad school, getting married after college were all made when I was 17. I am extremely driven, and I had stuck to the plans for a long time.
Ultimately, I scorched it all. I tossed the plans out and forgot about it all. All the things I thought were good choices or positive were so obviously dumb, because it only caused pain.
My frontal lobe wasn’t developed yet. Cut 21-year-old Liz a break.
The plans would take a different form later, but at the time I had no plans. I was terrified and exhilarated. Which led to going out on a level I hadn’t done before. Which means “That’s Not My Name” – The Ting Tings was everywhere. It seemed that everywhere I went out to was playing this song. I’m probably exaggerating, but I remember one night hearing it in every place I went.
Or maybe it was playing on my iPod the whole night and I never realized it. All likely scenarios.
In my ongoing search to figure out who I was or what I liked, I dated a guy from my hometown. It was a complicated, on/off relationship. Not complicated because I was terrible and he was stubborn. But complicated because we were both in transition – not sure of what was coming next or what the time table of life would bring. It was incredible how aimless I felt, that I was willing to try anything to see if I actually liked it.
So I did what any girl with no plans or future does: I drank, danced and straight up swung from the chandelier.
Well. Not really. Because that seems very dangerous and who knows what the weight limit for those things really is.
But you get the idea: I went out almost every weekend, and come holidays I went out every night. I didn’t pay a dime for a drink or cover. I was ten feet tall, and bulletproof. With the intense vulnerability and pain I had felt after being told “I don’t love you” by a guy I had loved, I chased that bulletproof feeling everywhere. I craved having my confidence back.
I can’t reiterate it enough though: I felt so unsure of everything I had chosen. Was this the life I wanted? What did life look like after college without plans? It felt like everyone else had these life journeys and events planned. . . And I had tossed them all out because it just wasn’t right for me anymore.
What I didn’t realize was everyone was unsure. With the closing of a big chapter of life, no one leaves without doubt. We chain ourselves to a destiny, without realizing we cut the chains whenever we want.
For me, I pulled out the bolt cutters after tequila, a night of dancing and pandering around like a newborn giraffe in heels. While it was fun, I knew my achieving type-A list maker was not cut out for it. It was enjoyable to entertain the idea of someone and that this could be a high I chased for the next few years.
But ultimately, it’s just not who I am. I make goals and lists because I like them. I like achieving.
Anytime I hear this song, I think of that 21 year old girl. That story in my life is a reminder that everyone isn’t sure. That the destiny I’m not sure about, it changes. You change it. You get to decide if you want to travel. You get to decide if you want to pursue another degree. You decide if you get to move.
So that’s what I did. I moved away. I traveled. I got a master’s. And I owe it all to The Ting Tings.
Well, The Ting Tings and tequila.